Tag Archives: grace

Father of Fathers

Today’s message summary of June 18, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

As a 31-year old, I can’t tell you very much about my biological father.  I have only met him three different times.  I don’t know much about him or his family.  On my mother’s side, I can only speak about her and my grandmother, and that is how much I know about my family history.

With that said, the genealogy in the bible has a purpose to identify lineages.

In Genesis, there are genealogies listed that start with Adam and his lineage, and those that follow lead to the promise made to David about the coming Messiah.

Matthew 1:1-17

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

This passage is a good one to examine for Father’s Day as it shows how fathers were preparing other fathers over time.

The point of this message is that your heavenly Father loves you more than your earthly father.  He will never fail you—in spite of your own disobedience to Him.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an example to all of us.

There is not information within these passages to explain the behaviors of some of these fathers. We don’t know if they were living in righteousness or holiness.

The Scriptures do identify that each of these persons does lead to Jesus Christ.  Some of these individuals we do know of, such as Abraham, Boaz and David.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Abraham, in the Christian faith, is recognized as the Father of Faith…but was he a good father?

If you look at his life closely, you would see that he lied often and even committed adultery (with Hagar).  He was far from perfect.  Abraham, at the behest of Sarah, abandoned Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-13

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

If it was not for God’s instruction to send his son off, he would have kept him there.  Out of faith and obedience to God, he listened.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

We are reminded that faith and obedience were most important in the relationship between God and Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sinful behavior.

Of the women who were involved within these genealogies, many of them were outsiders.  In Matthew 11:3, Tamar is referenced.  She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law.  Judah, the father-in-law, was hardly an innocent victim.  It was contrary to the law of God.  We also see Rahab’s name in the genealogy.  She was a prostitute, yet she was praised as a woman of faith who turned out to be David’s grandmother.  Another person, Ruth, is listed.  She was a person of honor, but she was also a Gentile, a Moabite, an outsider.  Moabites are descendants of Lot.

Genesis 19:30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

You see how God moved past the sins of his people and brings different people into the lineage of Christ.

Matthew also wanted us to remember about David and Bathsheba through their adulterous union that led to Solomon.  Uriah, who was a godly man and a friend of David, was one of his most trusted men.  There is great irony in how David, because of his adultery, would have Uriah murdered and try to cover up the relationship.  Remember, God said that David was “a man after His own heart.”  Bathsheba is not mentioned within the genealogy in Matthew, and it was more a point of shame with David.  Nathan’s words of prophecy held true with the turmoil that followed David throughout the rest of his life.  While David failed miserably as a father, he still loved his children.  He still loved his son Absalom, even though Absalom was trying to kill him.

2 Samuel 18:31-33

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Despite David’s sin, he loved his children.  He was willing to trade his life for them.

Solomon, featured in the genealogy, had many, many, many, many wives.  God had declared, of course, that man should have only one wife.

Here is a prophetic verse in Deuteronomy that actually refers to Solomon and his choices:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Solomon’s heart turned from God because of the women he allowed in his life.

Solomon’s wisdom was evident and apparent to everyone, but he was flawed in his fleshliness.

Of the genealogy leading to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that emerges is God’s grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  The fathers listed here were both good and evil; however, God’s grace was present throughout the lives of each of these people.

It was all part of God’s sovereign plan.

Note that Mary, listed in this genealogy, was a descendant of David.  Jesus was still the heir to the throne of David, and Joseph was His earthly father, who was willing to be obedient to God and take on the responsibility to raise Him.

Single mothers:  Are you helping the child in filling the void in his life by ministering to him and help him recognize Christ as the Lord of his life?

Fathers:  You will fail your children and even disappoint them, but it is an opportunity to display the gospel before them.  For all have sinned and fall short of His glory.  Your humble approach will show them that you are a father that unconditionally loves the children and lives according to the commands of God.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Bind them on your heart always;

    tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;


Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 6 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of March 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts at Shiloh, where Elis two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lords priests.

Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Whenever she went up to the Lords house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat. Hannah, why are you crying? her husband Elkanah asked. Why wont you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?

In verse 10, it is noted that Hannah was depressed about her inability to conceive.  She was very upset and was praying to God that she would be remembered in her difficulty.

1 Samuel 1:9-11

Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lords tabernacle. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, Lord of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servants affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.

She was weeping in such a way as a woman who had lost her only child.  Her condition was one of deep despair.

The reality of infertility makes a woman feel inadequate or incomplete.  A woman’s desire is to bear children.  In Hannah’s time, women who remained barren felt worthless, and they typically would not receive an inheritance that would allow for care for themselves and family members.  A woman’s prestige was based upon her ability to produce offspring.

It should be noted that Hannah’s inability to bear children was allowed by God, and perhaps for the sole purpose that He wanted Hannah to draw closer to Him and to not dwell on her circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger[a] of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hannah found her self-worth in God.  This is also a lesson for each of us.  We believe that the things that we do defines who we are.  All joy that we experience comes from Him, and it should remind us that we are to seek Him in everything.

When we pray to God, we are to pray with the understanding that our desires are to be rooted within a relationship with Him.  He wants us to grow more and more with Him.

In her prayer to God, we will focus on these three things:

  • Hannah’s vow to the Lord
  • Hannah asked for recognition
  • Hannah’s offering

Hannah made a vow with God not only with herself but also with her future child.  When she made this promise, it affected the course of her child’s life.  The vow was a Nazarite vow, where the person would separate and consecrate himself for service to God in the temple.  We find that Samuel would be serving the Lord diligently for his entire life.

Making a vow is not to be taken lightly, and is not recommended (Judges 11:29-40).

So, (Akron Alliance Fellowship) Church, when you are praying:

Matthew 5:37

But let your word yes be yes, and your no be no.[a] Anything more than this is from the evil one.

When Samuel was born, we know that Hannah followed her vow by keeping her commitment.  Her only child was committed to service.  Her desire to be a mother was fulfilled, but she released Samuel to serve the Lord.  This is the type of prayer that we are to focus on when it comes to our own service to Jesus Christ.

Hannah prayed to the Lord to be remembered by God as her servant (1 Samuel 1:11).  In Hannah, whose name means “grace,” you can understand her sincerity of prayer before the Lord.  Note that God heard her affliction, and we see that Hannah bore Samuel and many more children afterward (three sons and two daughters).

The lesson here is remaining prayerful.  God, in His sovereignty, does recognize your prayers, and it make take some time before He answers them.

Hannah’s offering was giving her son back to the Lord.  She offered her son as a way of serving the Lord in her desire to please God. Samuel was faithful in service and became a judge over Israel.

There is a parallel to her actions to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

John 17:9-11

I pray for them.

I am not praying for the world

but for those You have given Me,

because they are Yours.

Everything I have is Yours,

and everything You have is Mine,

and I have been glorified in them.

I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

 

Jesus asked God to keep and protect His servants.  The persons that Jesus would die on the cross for belonged to the Father.


Divorce (continued from series on Marriage and Family)

A summary of Pastor Gus Brown’s message of October 23, 2016

God’s Word will ultimately judge all of us.  In the area of divorce, the church has covered specific areas, but we need to look at the totality of His Word to cover what divorce is…it is a product of a sinful world.  We are seeing more and more of how divorce affects Christian marriages, and we need to begin to look at how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, can be peacemakers.

Divorce brings anger and bitterness to the relationship.  After all is said and done, can the divorce move to the man and woman being friends and not embittering the children who are involved.

Got never intended for married couples to divorce.  We need to look more at what it represents.

Divorce — to loose, to release, let go, dismiss, depart, put away, send away, set at liberty, freedom.

Divorce replaces God’s authority with our own, moral submission.  It is favoring autonomy (self-will, self-governing).

To deny God’s principle in marriage is to remove the requirements pertaining to the marriage relationship.  It opens for selfish desires that can lead to the mistreatment of the other person.

All relationships on earth are governed by God (Leviticus 18).  They are to be defined by His Word.

A man or woman may have a number of people in their life.  There are many relationships within this…mother, aunt, wife, daughter, sister, friend, father, uncle, husband, son, brother, etc.  Leviticus 18 sets the boundaries that are to exist within these relationships.

If God’s law (His Word) or faith is removed from the relationship, then all that is left to sustain the relationship is the frail emotional bond of one’s feelings (a relationship should not be limited to one’s feelings).

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Where feelings and pleasure are the basis of marriage and not God’s Word, then marriage becomes acts of robbery, where each person is in it for the selfish pleasure, which will lead to a break in the relationship when there is nothing new to be gained.  Do you see why a person can feel as though they have been used and unloved?

Malachi 2:14-16

Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.  Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth. If he hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

James 1:19-21

May dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

  1. Guard yourself. Always remain loyal to your wife.
  2. Avoid violence. Never do anything that causes injury or bloodshed. (You will never act in righteousness if you are angry.)
  3. The garment of injustice. Divorce is using the law of Moses to put the spouse away.

Why is divorce allowed?  Divorce is an accommodation that God has made within a world of sin.

While God is holy, He is not unrealistic.

Even if one person is obedient to God within the marriage, it doesn’t mean the other person will cooperate.

God is aware of our helplessness.  The flesh is weak.

God makes provision for those who are not able to measure up to His demands in a given point in life.

The cross itself reveals the principle of God’s tolerance.  God was willing to tolerate the killing of His Son to keep His own law from condemning us to hell.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Look at divorce from God’s eyes.  God hates divorce.

Why did God write Israel a bill of divorce?  It was because of sin and transgression.

Isaiah 50:1

This is what the Lord says: Where is your mother’s divorce certificate that I used to send her away? Or who were My creditors that I sold you to? (Exodus 21:7) Look, you were sold for your iniquities, and your mother was put away because of your transgressions.

God still loves the sinner, but He does not tolerate the sin.  He will not accept those who willingly break the law.

One of things that happens within a divorce is the culmination of no longer allowing the rules to be broken by a spouse.

Jeremiah 3:8-10

I observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart — only in pretense.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

Unfaithfulness, a lack of fear, adultery, false pretenses of love and security reflect a lack of love for God, and it cannot be faked.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another mans wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if he dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again after she has been defiled, because that would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The grounds of divorce are closely related to Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8-10.

When the woman finds no grace in her husband’s eyes, he or she has stopped being a covenant keeper and image bearer.

Divorce occurs when the relationship falls short of what God is demanding; therefore, God allowing divorce was not evil, but it was dealing with evil.

God knows our journey from beginning to end, He is there to help but does not make our decisions for us.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

The Lord is a Helper.  He helps us to get up.

His promise is to continue to work in our lives.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

A man and woman in a divorce will stumble, but through God’s grace, there is healing and recovery.  They both rise again.


Be Filled (Part 5) – A Spirit-Filled Church

Today’s message of August 21, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

If you consider church planting, there are several things that can be considered.  Some leadership teams in this effort focus on only outreach to the unsaved.  Another church model is the teaching model, which focuses on doctrine.  Another model is that of discipleship.  All of these are good, but a better church model as derived from the text in Acts Chapter 2, which would be the model for a Spirit-filled church.

There are at least eight markers of a Spirit-filled church:

Preaching of the gospel
Devotion to God’s Word
Intentional fellowship
Prayer
Godly fear
Commonality
Corporate worship
Praising God

Acts 2:37-47 ESV

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The preaching of the gospel is the most important marker for any church plant or any church ministry.  A Spirit-filled church must go to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Everything rests upon the gospel.  A church that is not preaching the gospel is an apostate church.

Galatians 1:6-9 ESV

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
How do you identify the church that preaches the gospel?  By the preaching of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther and John Calvin challenged the Catholic Church on the doctrine of faith and grace.  It is faith and grace that saves, and not works.  Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, and not the pope.  The reformers fought the Catholic Church with their very lives, because they deemed it to be paramount over everything.

Acts 2:16-25

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[b] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

The reformers noted what Peter was preaching, and that his audiences were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit and needed to reckon with the judgment of God.  Only the power of the gospel can do this.

Five Solas:
Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)
Sola Fide (faith alone)
Sola Gratia (grace alone)
Sola Christus (Christ alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)

The gospel not only convicts but helps people take personal responsibility by placing trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Living a lifestyle of repentance is the result.

The gospel message is simple, and all that is required is belief by faith in Jesus Christ.

Being devoted to God’s Word (Acts 2:42)

The explicit meaning is for the desire of all who hear the gospel to study His Word.  The implicit meaning of v. 42 was the result of 3,000 people coming to know Jesus Christ.

The gospel is preached–people hear it and accept Christ–then make disciples within the group.

Acts 17:10-12

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Psalm 119:1-7

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous rules.

“There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled Christian who neglects the study of the Word of God.  There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled church that does not give itself continually and steadfastly to the study of sacred Scripture. The first sign of a Spirit-filled church is one in which the Spirit-filled people do not flee from Scripture and seek a substitute for it but are driven to it to have their spiritual lives rooted and grounded in the Word of God.”  –R C Sproul

Intentional fellowship uplifts the group of believers.  Church fellowship is good, but intentional fellowship is encouraged throughout the week.  It is necessary to encourage and admonish one another.

Prayer, the fourth marker of a Spirt-filled church, is very important.  We are to pray for one another.

Colossians 4:2-6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Prayer reveals the ways in which the gospel can go forth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Godly fear (Acts 2:43)

Acts 5:1-11

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
The word “awe” means “fear.”  The young church witnessed many miraculous things through the apostles, and they would revere God even more.  A church that is not fearing God is in a dangerous place.  There must be a reverence of God in order for people to remain obedient to Him.

Acts 5:12-13

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
The people understood what they had seen, and they had great reverence for God and His Word.

Commonality (v. 44)

The Word of God tells the Spirit-filled church to be of one mind and one accord.  The Holy Spirit showed the people what they were to do and did so accordingly.

This is important because (1) the church should be its own financial institution (not the government), and (2) it is to provide for the poor and less fortunate–their own members and members of the community.

Many who were widows and were poor and destitute, and it created the opportunity for a number of leaders within the church to serve those needed meals (one of these leaders over the food ministry in the early church was Stephen).

The opposite of commonality is that where there is separation:

Galatians 2:11-14

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Corporate worship (Acts 2:46-47)

Public worship is collectively being together in one place.  Paul planted a church and allowed leaders to be the governing board, and the process is repeated for every plant.  A multi-site church fulfills this requirement.

Praising God is an act of a Spirit-filled church

Acts 2:42

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.


The Seven Trumpets (Part 1)

Today’s message summary of January 3, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Most people today will continue to fail to acknowledge God. Even though Scripture notes this, we are reminded by Scripture to continue to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ. It is for this reason: God is not in a hurry to do away with those who don’t acknowledge Him. He desires for all men to be saved. But make no mistake about this…there is a day that is coming when there will be the end.

God is merciful. God is putting off the death sentence for those who don’t know Him until the time that they repent and accept Christ as Savior.

God holds back His judgment until that time when there will no longer a restraint on His grace and mercy. And there will be no mistake about the presence of God and His wrath in that day.

Revelation 6:16-17

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

Some people will decide that they do not want to have anything to do with God; however, there will be a time when God will have something to do with them.

When you examine, in Revelation, the seals, trumpets and bowls, the judgments become worse and worse over time. God’s wrath, soon after this, will be poured out. Satan uses man, at that time, to create destruction and devastation. Satan deceives the people to carry out these acts, and God, of course, allows it. It is part of His plan.

Man will use reasoning to refuse to acknowledge God. They will avoid any situation or circumstance that moves one to conclude that Satan was present; for example, we try to explain why Hitler did what he did without mentioning that Satan was involved. We do this because of fear in that we do not want to acknowledge that God and Satan are present. The reasoning of man is to give an explanation of why something happened in order to remove fear and maintain control of the situation. People are not afraid because reasoning something into natural causes or occurrences removes fear.

Note that as we move into Revelation, Chapter 8, God will move in such a way that no one will be able to explain Him away.

In Chapter 8, the angels of heaven see the real terror that is to come. People on earth have not yet seen it or know what to expect.

Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31

For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.

For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

 

Psalm 76:7

And You–You are to be feared. When You are angry, who can stand before You?

 

Psalm 7:11

God is a righteous judge and a God who shows His wrath every day.

Note that society today has tried to remove God from everything in order to make Him invisible, because of the logic that if we cannot see Him, there is no reason to be fearful of Him. If He is unseen or invisible, it gives justification for living any way one chooses.

Back to Revelation 8, there is silence in heaven once the angels see what is going to happen. There is no choir singing or praises taking place. It is the quiet before the storm.

Revelation 8:1

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Note that God is angry with the wicked every day. What holds back God from expressing His wrath? It is His mercy.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

 

Psalm 103:8-9

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever.

 

The angels, in Revelation 8, see the actions of God pouring out His anger. Note that, out of the Seventh Seal come the seven trumpets.

John says that he saw seven angels:

Revelation 8:2-4

Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel, with a gold incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand.

The angels are carrying out the message as direct servants of God. The message is that God will now being carrying out the judgment Himself. He will be carrying out what was already noted in Revelation 6:

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

Revelation 8:5-6

The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were rumblings of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

Now come the trumpets being blown by the angels, with God carrying out His wrath:

Revelation 8:7 (The First Trumpet)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled to the earth. So a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Revelation 8:8-9 (The Second Trumpet)

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain ablaze with fire was hurled into the sea. So a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures of the sea dies, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:10 (The Third Trumpet)

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from heaven. It fell on a third of the rivers and springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood. So, many of the people died from the waters, because they had been made bitter.

God is saying to those who do not trust in Him that there will be an account. There is nothing to fear as long as you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He will keep you in fellowship with Him, but while he is merciful and compassionate, He will judge the wicked of this world.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.


Your Spiritual Journey

Today’s message summary of December 13, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

In recent months, I have come up with a phrase to describe my life today: “Every day is an adventure.”

Every day has its challenges. Some of them are expected, while some are new and require flexibility. If you had plans that day, they can and will change at a moment’s notice.  There’s no reason to get ahead of yourself beyond those moments, because each one requires your full attention.

Matthew 6:34 HCSB

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Every day may indeed be an adventure, but each day, one after another, week after week, month after month and year after year—is a journey.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, your relationship with Jesus Christ makes your journey a spiritual journey.

I would like to provide you with an overview of my own spiritual journey with the hope that it will help you to look at where you are in your life journey with Jesus Christ. What I desire for you to see is how this journey, over time, is not so much better because life gets easier—it won’t get easier—but it will get better because your life in Christ will get richer with your personal growth in wisdom and knowledge because of the Spirit’s involvement in everything you do.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more that you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.”

In examination of my spiritual journey, Roosevelt was absolutely on-target. I had to learn more about who I was as a person in order to come to the realization that I needed to choose Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. From there, I recognized the necessity to make a series of progressions over time to bring me to this point of my journey.

My past as a non-believer was not filled with church experiences; in fact, I seldom went to church. I was only exposed to church on random Easter Sundays, and ironically, those visits involved hearing my grandfather, Rev. Ernest W. Stevens, Sr., preach as a guest speaker at Lee Road Baptist Church or some other church on the east side of Cleveland. I was never involved with church at Christmas time. My parents, at that time, were not believers in Jesus Christ, and there was one King James Version bible in the house that collected dust on a side table.

When I graduated from high school, my first job was work at my uncles’ florist shop in East Cleveland. Of the two uncles, Tyrone was a believer who spoke about the need to accept Christ, and Larry talked about the Lord but was not really following Him. Over the summer, I worked at the shop seven days a week, and I was exposed to a new, entirely different lifestyle. I delivered floral arrangements and took orders over the phone and in-person. A significant experience was dealing with families who had just lost a loved one and orders for bereavement flowers. I also became introspective about the delivery of flowers to funeral homes, where I had to place the flowers on and around the casket of the person. These events are fresh in my mind. In witnessing the aftermath of the death of others, including those of infants who had died prematurely, it made me think more about life and what I had to look forward to.

I listened to the testimonies of my saved uncle and a fellow employee, a young woman named Renee. She mentioned to me that her life was different at that time because of her relationship with the Lord. She used to listen to gospel music and would even sing a few lyrics out loud. She was, and is today, an amazing singer. She also witnessed to my uncle Larry about the Lord. I knew deep down that he liked Renee for her appearance, but she was always a true professional. I respected her approach to life very much, and was a little envious of her contentment. I was anything but content. I was still living at home and I had already bombed out of college. My parents were fighting on a regular basis and were headed for a divorce. Work at the flower shop did not pay a lot, and I had to learn more about money management because I had purchased a new car that I could barely afford.

My past was telling me that my life, at that time, was on the road to nowhere, and it was fast approaching.

I had taken other jobs in order to try to determine what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I circled back to working at the flower shop. In 1986, as the flower shop days were ending, I was invited to a church on the west side of Cleveland—Second Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Roland H. Crowder was the pastor that delivered about two or three Sunday messages where I had decided that enough was enough. I knew that I didn’t have any solutions on my own for where my life was going, but I knew that I needed Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. That June, I went forward and I got baptized two weeks later before some of my friends that I had invited to church. I was 26 years old, and I was baptized with a group of 8 and 9 year olds. Imagine the sight of that!

With a new beginning in Jesus Christ comes a new template of how to live. I knew that Christ was present, but I was still learning about the presence of the Holy Spirit and what all of it really meant to me. I knew where I was, but I could now see that there was more to life than my own personal experiences. God had to teach me that life is more about serving Him than my own needs or desires.

A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, writes about his own moral dilemma in his book, My Own Story, where at age 14, he willfully disobeyed his parents in spite of his own desire to pursue ministry for the sake of fulfilling his own desires. Simpson does not go into detail about what those things were except that they were things that people who aspire for ministry should not do. When his parents found out about it, his mother went off on him!

“It was the day of judgment for me…my mother wringing her hands and pouring out the vials of her wrath while I sat confounded and crushed. …That tragedy settled the question of the ministry. Soon after I…decided to give up these side issues and prepare myself…to be a minister of the Gospel.”

Everyone has a history to reckon with. At the moment that a person comes to Jesus Christ, that history is part of who the person is, but those periods of history become a part of one’s learning experience. A. B. Simpson learned about what it means to be fully devoted to a life with Jesus Christ. Thankfully, from the moment of our conversion to Jesus Christ, the transformation of our hearts and minds begins:

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I made a lot of mistakes, and I still do. My history before I became a believer in Christ consisted of looking to the world for answers to questions and problems. Following the world meant living a sinful lifestyle. After all is said and done, I took very bad advice. I am grateful that God has been merciful to me and has allowed me to learn from my mistakes with minimal consequences.

Lamentations 3:22-23 HCSB

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,

for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

Even though sin is part of our fleshly nature, we learn over time that our Holy Spirit gives us the ability to resist the temptations that lead to sinful behavior. We have power in the Spirit to live a life that honors Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Early in my new life as a believer, God was gradually revealing to me what my talents and gifts were to use in my new faith. I liked art and English as a youth, and while I wasn’t a big reader, I did like to write. I also grew in my verbal communication skills with my career in Collections and as a supervisor. At my first church, I was a greeter, and then soon after that I was selected to teach Sunday school to the teens. My first class subject was the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. God knew that the best way to study His Word was to make me a teacher! It was humbling and yet it launched me to where I am today as an adult Sunday school teacher. I would not be able to do any of these things without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 HCSB

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.

My growth as a believer continued as I developed my communication skills. I was able to finish my undergraduate degree in Business and Organizational Communication at the University of Akron (Go Zips!) in 2002, and it was not long after that when Pastor Gus gave me opportunities to speak from the pulpit. The first couple of times out were a little rough, but I managed to make progress and learn about the preparation and delivery process over time. I learned that while speaking from the pulpit is quite an honor, I was reminded that it is a privilege and that my approach should always be one with prayerful humility.

James 4:6 HCSB

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.

A. B. Simpson was humble in his service. He was willing to sacrifice his time, and even his own personal stature for the sake of reaching people for Christ. His missionaries, educators and staff were all committed to their areas of service because he set the tone for the ministry. He prayed fervently and provided vision, determination and commitment to everything that he was involved in. His example is what I strive to demonstrate to those that I serve in my church and in my workplace. The desire is to honor Jesus Christ, and not myself.

Colossians 3:16-17 HCSB

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In the midst of all of this, my flesh provides constant reminders of my history before Christ. I know that God’s power through the Holy Spirit is ever-present, but the allure of the things that support the flesh make things like “giving up” or “taking a break from Jesus” more appealing. This is where history can no longer determine the appropriate steps for me. I need to treat history for what it is, and remember that as I repent from my sinful past, God no longer remembers those sins. I am also thankful that Jesus took care of all of my sins once and for all.

Hebrews 10:16-18 HCSB

This is the covenant I will make with them

after those days, says the Lord:

I will put My laws on their hearts

and write them on their minds,

He adds:

I will never again remember

their sins and their lawless acts.

Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

It’s been just under thirty years for me as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have grown in my faith and my ability to serve, but it was not until recently where I was very confident that I was in the place that God would have me to be. My next steps involve looking into serving as a chaplain or pursuing ordination with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’m sincerely open to what God has in store for me, and I readily acknowledge that, even after I obtain my Master’s degree, I still have a lot to learn as I exercise my faith.

Philippians 2:12-13 HCSB

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

As a Sunday school teacher, it is prudent for me to continue to practice what I teach—ongoing reading and meditation of the Scriptures and living a life of fullness in Christ wherever I may be.

Your spiritual journey in Jesus Christ, from today forward, continues.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


No Ways Tired (God Has Brought Us Through It All)

Rev. James Cleveland

Rev. James Cleveland

Original post August 2, 2009 – Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cw75v2uqts

I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – Rev. James Cleveland (via YouTube)

I don’t feel no ways tired,
I’ve come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy,
I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.

(excerpt from I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – written by Curtis Burrell – sung by Rev. James Cleveland)

 

When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh and all his household, but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)”

When reflecting upon our lives as we remember our victories and learn from our defeats, do we respond with awe as to how God has brought us through it all?

We are (if we choose to be) a living testimony to the true statement that “God is able (Ephesians 3:20).” When we look at our life from where we came from to where we are today, we should be giving thanks to the Lord through Jesus Christ, proclaiming aloud “look where God has brought us from.” It is His grace and mercy that has carried us through. God’s grace has brought us out of generations of servitude and bondage to a new generation of freedom. He has allowed us to realize true freedom, not just in this country, but also in our ability to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Few today know of the sacrifices of our ancestors and predecessors who gave their lives for the freedom that we can celebrate in today. The times of difficulty experienced by those who lived before us in those days of persecution required a strong measure of faith and trust that God would be the One who would sustain them and deliver them. Their vision was far from short-sighted.

We have a responsibility, however, to acknowledge, who Jesus Christ is in our lives. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it’ (Luke 9:23-24).” God has truly blessed us, in our following Jesus Christ, with a sense of family in our neighborhoods when we were raising not just our own children, but the neighbors’ children, too! Today, that precious family value has been lost to a new generation of single parenthood and a lack of a healthy overall family presence. The world has a powerful effect on today’s youth and family structures that has diminished the impact of the family structure.  Only the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome adversity and move people to reconcile with God and with others.  If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, pray for the Spirit to change lives and more!  He is able to provide many miracles!

Let’s personalize this.  When looking at where God has brought you from, take the time to review and reflect upon where you are today. Looking back at your past helps you to move today in the right direction in order to be in the place where God would have you to be now and in the future. Jesus transforms lives from a lost existence through repentance and His forgiveness of sin.  His grace and mercy from His gift of salvation is ready for anyone who is willing to trust in Him as personal Lord and Savior.  He can, and will, transform you today.  Just ask, and you will receive.  Amen.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)